High fever, excruciating headache, diarrhea, vomiting and finally hemorrhaging: symptoms describing the Ebola virus, which has killed thousands of people in West Africa since March.
Americans all over read the headlines, rolled their eyes and proceeded with the rest of their day, appreciative that the virus affected “them” and not “us.” I mean, why should we care if people in Africa are faced with a lethal disease, as long as it doesn’t come to the United States, right? But, as soon as the highly contagious disease manifests in the U.S., we might as well have WWIII.
Critics argue that: “A nurse infected in Spain has recovered, as have four American aid workers infected in West Africa. Even there, not everyone dies.” Jindal points out that this outbreak is not about “everyone dying,” but the precautions to take, where he wants developed policies within five days “due to the urgency of this foreseeable threat and importance of having procedures in place to minimize the threatened harm,” and to ensure that it does not spread, increasing the chances that many may in fact die.
Thomas Eric Duncan, the first victim of Ebola reported in the U.S. since the outbreak began, recently died after being quarantined for quite some time. Duncan left Liberia, where 3,400 people have died from the virus, and traveled to Texas to see his family again after a long separation. Now, the tables have turned and the once called “them” now includes “us.”
Medical experts argue that grounding flights and screening passengers fail to prevent the spread of the disease; however, the media rightfully outrages on the Federal Aviation Administration for failing to block Duncan’s entrance into the U.S. from an area severely affected by the outbreak.
Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior associate at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School’s Center for Health Security, wrote: “I, for one, am quite encouraged by the fact the 21 days have elapsed and Thomas Duncan’s family have not become ill. It’s further evidence of what public health specialists have been saying: that this virus is not easily transmitted.”
I understand the fear that by getting involved with the outbreak, the risk of citizen infection significantly increases, enabling the virus to spread rapidly; however, I stand for the statement made by former Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt: “States and local governments, not just in Dallas, not just in Nebraska, not just in Bethesda, have got to be prepared for this. As it spreads across Africa, the likelihood of it returning to the United States is high and we need to be ready for that.”
Americans are now recognizing the danger of a pandemic this lethal. Because of the global health crisis of highly contagious diseases, governments should mobilize resources to contain outbreak immediately. Reacting after contamination crosses borders simply won’t work. As the outbreak began in March, the U.S. and other world governments responded slowly, as the virus spread rapidly. Our best chance of putting a stop to this has long passed, and let’s face it: that did nothing for us but increase the funds for treating the disease. Before we know it, this could turn into the next genocide — “Ebola style.”